Let me start by saying that I really ought to know better. Trying to lose 10 pounds in two weeks is not only borderline unhealthy, it’s nearly impossible. As a health writer and generally sensible person, I know this — but I’m also a human being and I had a special occasion looming.
Be honest: Who among us hasn’t had that panicky, “Oh man, I’ve been lazy and eating junk lately, but I absolutely need to look good at that wedding/family party/class reunion coming up in a few days!” feeling? That was me a couple of weeks ago, and while I did know I was being silly — frankly, my 10-pound “goal” was deliberately pie-in-the-sky — I also wanted a challenge to motivate me to look and feel my best quickly.
Did it motivate me? Sure, I was motivated — but I also completely (spoiler alert) failed to reach my goal. While in hindsight that result seems inevitable, I did learn a few important lessons along the way.
1. You might fail on the first day — but that can be a good thing.
I was aiming to shed pounds before a Saturday night wedding, so I started my plan exactly two weeks before that. Brilliant, really: It was the weekend, so I had more time and energy to stay on track, right? Um, wrong. So very wrong. I’m a mom, and on the weekends I am with my kids 24/7, and that means I actually have a ton less time than I do on even my most insane workday. Long story short, we ran errands, we got off track with our day, and we needed a drive-through meal for dinner. All of a sudden, the colorful salad of my weight-loss dreams was out; a grilled chicken sandwich served in a cardboard box was in. (And let’s be real, a handful of my kids’ French fries was in, too.) But that Day 1 failure served me well in that it made me doubly motivated to stick with healthier meals for the next several days. In this case, a little bit of guilt was actually a great thing.
2. People are going to think you’re nuts.
Do yourself a favor and don’t shout from the rooftops that you plan to lose 10 pounds in two weeks, because people are going to tell you that you’re flat-out bonkers. Weight loss takes time, especially successful, long-lasting weight loss, and — just like how you couldn’t sleep through class all semester and expect to pass your finals in college — you can’t really fake a dramatic weight change at the last minute. You can certainly try (Spanx, anyone?) but unless you want to be talked out of your plans, keep them to yourself.
3. Drinking tons of water is the single best thing you can do.
H2O is an awesome part of a weight-loss plan because it’s easy, free, and beneficial to your health in a zillion ways. Most of us don’t get enough water as it is, so drinking extra calorie-free fluids all day will keep you hydrated, energized, and (let’s be honest) getting up to pee a lot more. Every step counts, right?
4. A daily vitamin is a great idea.
While I tried to have a mix of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and healthy carbs over my two weeks, swallowing that daily vitamin ensured that I was getting all the nutrients I needed while I was eating slightly less than usual. And it may only have been in my mind, but packing my essential nutrients into a pill every day also made me feel less hungry.
5. Even 30 (or 20!) minutes of exercise will go a long way.
You can’t drastically overhaul your life in a couple of weeks, so if you aren’t a fitness person, suddenly spending hours at the gym is going to feel like a ton of work. Taking a few laps around the block before you eat breakfast, though? That you can do easily — and it’s a great way to re-commit to your goal each morning. (It also really does work for shedding pounds.)
6. Be careful with clothing.
I made the mistake of telling my tailor to pin things a little tighter as she worked on my dress. “I’m going to lose 10 pounds in two weeks,” I told her proudly (which, ugh, see #2 again). With raised eyebrows, she obeyed me and tightened those darn pins — and then I had to go see her a week later at nearly exactly the same size so she could hand me my now-almost-too-tight dress. The shame!
7. No one is going to notice, anyway.
This last one is the truest of them all. While I did end up losing a few pounds before the big event, exactly zero people that night noticed any difference in my size at all — and that includes me. I was more focused on having a good time once I arrived, which is exactly how it should be.